Congress Introduces Legislation to Ban Wildlife Killing Contests on Public Lands

A bobcat lies in green grass.
Photo by Philip Bouchard

Washington, DC—Fifteen members of Congress introduced legislation today that would prohibit organizing, sponsoring, conducting, or participating in wildlife killing contests on more than 500 million acres of US public lands.

The Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests Act of 2022, led by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), would require the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and US Forest Service to enact regulations banning wildlife killing contests within a year. Eight states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Vermont, and Washington—already have outlawed these events within their borders.

Wildlife killing contests are organized competitive events in which participants compete for cash or prizes by killing the most, the largest, or, occasionally, even the smallest animals over a designated time period. Each year, thousands of important native carnivores and other wildlife—including coyotes, foxes, bobcats, mountain lions, prairie dogs and wolves—are killed during these competitions.

“It’s time for us to end the mass slaughter contests of America’s wild carnivores once and for all,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The senseless killing of our most persecuted wildlife on public lands should have never been allowed. Congress should pass this legislation quickly so we can finally spare our native animals from these ruthless kill-fests.”

“Wildlife killing contests are cruel events that have no place in modern civil society,” said Johanna Hamburger, director and senior staff attorney for the Animal Welfare Institute’s terrestrial wildlife program. “Participants frequently violate fundamental hunting principles of fair chase by using bait and electronic calling devices to maximize the likelihood of winning, and the animal carcasses are usually dumped after the event.”

“Most people are shocked to learn that wildlife killing contests are even legal on our public lands,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote. “Killing animals for prizes and entertainment is ethically indefensible, ecologically reckless, and anathema to sound wildlife conservation and management.”

“A closer look makes it pretty clear that these bloodbaths constitute neither wildlife management nor sport,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “Killing contests aren’t merely retrograde cruelty, either. They destroy native carnivores like coyotes, who play a vital role in ensuring the health of forest and pastoral ecosystems. Now, thanks to Representative Steve Cohen’s leadership, we have a chance to do something about it.”

Additional cosponsors of today’s legislation are Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Raúl Grijalva (D-A.Z.), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), and Cori Bush (D-M.O.).

Media Contact Information

Marjorie Fishman, Animal Welfare Institute
margie@awionline.org, (202) 446-2128

Stephanie Kurose, Center for Biological Diversity
skurose@biologicaldiversity.org, (202) 849-8375

Camilla Fox, Project Coyote
cfox@projectcoyote.org, (415) 945-3232

Emily Ehrhorn, Humane Society Legislative Fund
eehrhorn@humanesociety.org, (202) 779-1814

The Animal Welfare Institute (awionline.org) is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.

The Center for Biological Diversity (biologicaldiversity.org) is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. Visit us on all our channels: on the web at hslf.org, on our blog at hslf.org/blog, on Facebook at facebook.com/humanelegislation and on Twitter at twitter.com/HSLegFund.

Project Coyote, a national non-profit organization, is a North American coalition of scientists, educators, and citizen leaders promoting compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science and advocacy. Visit ProjectCoyote.org for more information.

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